Borrowed Time

Monday, January 11, 2016

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” – Ibn Battuta

Extensive travel across India and few countries around has only increased my hunger to pack my bags and get out exploring even more often.  What really fascinated me through my travel was not just walking across the streets, meeting new people, conversations that follow and photographs that are made but the stories that I get to see and experience. One reason, why I have taken up blogging all over again is because I have come to a conclusion that the only way to justify my travel is by sharing the stories behind the captures. Most of my images when put together tells a story which the individual image may, yet times, fail to convey. To begin with, I have persuaded myself to share the story of some beautiful souls I met in an elderly home in Srilanka back in 2014.

“What makes old age hard to bear is not the failing of one’s faculties, mental and physical, but the burden of one’s memories” –W. Somerset Maugham. 

As I headed down from Kandy to Colombo airport after a tiring 9 day marathon across the beautiful Srilanka in November 2014, somewhere in between the journey I came across a sign on the road which read “Elderly Home”. I couldn’t ask for a better way to conclude the trip than by visiting these beautiful souls. But before any of that, it was time for grocery shopping, to gift them with abundance of snacks to last for atleast few weeks. 

I guess there isn’t any greater sin than abandoning ones parents in their age of need. The pain in each of their eyes tells the story on its own. These are the instances where I fail to gather courage to point my camera at them and ask for portraits. I mostly wander around greeting them, handing over snacks and in between capture a frame or two. Its one of those places where words are not spoken ( language barrier ) but most of the talking happens through smiles and body language. 

If there’s one thing I received in abundance at this place, it should be ‘blessings’. Almost each of them made it a point to place their hands over my head with a wide sparkling smile on their face wishing me well, just for visiting them.

“The surest sign of age is loneliness” – Annie Dillard

“The real sadness of old age is not that you change so much but that you change so little” – Max Lerner 

As they gathered at prayer hall as part of their daily routine, it was time for me to say ‘aayubowan’ and continue my journey to airport.

Just as I was about to exit, I came across a shelf full of medicines. Like its said – “All diseases run into one – old age”. Just before heading out, I emptied my pocket of all the Srilankan Rupee I had and even loaned some from my cab driver and handed over the same to the manager of the elderly home, thereby concluding my visit with even more blessings. 

As the journey continued and the scenic landscape merged into the chaotic Colombo, all I could think of is to count on the blessings and be happy with my share of fortunes, life could be way harder than we can imagine. It’s not the miles one travels but the lessons one gathers through those miles which counts. 

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